I Don’t Want to Read About *Those* People…

There’s been a whole lot of ink spilled already in what feels like round 9 quadrillion of the debate on the value of YA, and I have only this to add:

We all know what books (or any kind of story) can be at their best, right?  A vehicle for empathy, a glimpse into the joys and sorrows and above all the intricacy of another mind. At their core, stories are a chance –  brief, and partial and astonishing –  to live as someone who isn’t us.

YA books, like Nova Ren Suma says, aren’t books for teenagers but books about teenagers. Writers write and publishers publish for anyone who’ll read and buy their work. What makes a book YA is what’s on the page, not the part of the bookstore it’s stacked in.

So to my mind, when someone says ‘adults shouldn’t read YA’ they’re saying ‘adults have nothing to gain from the experience of empathising with teen characters’, or more bluntly, ‘people like me don’t need to empathize with people like that.’

This is the same impulse that lies behind the claim that boys need to read boys’ books, so we should publish more books about boys to get them reading.  It’s the impulse behind the argument that we can’t publish books with diverse characters in science fiction and fantasy because the readership won’t buy them. Here as there, it’s wrong, and it’s sad.

Of course it is. It’s the exact opposite of what reading all about.

Here, have a video of a guy dropping a slinky in HD Slow-Mo. Not because it’s relevant, just because it’s cool.

 

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